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Number of kids seeking mental health help is surging according to AdventHealth Central Florida

AdventHealth experts discuss mental health ahead of the school year.
Screenshot Life at AdventHealth Central Florida
Most of the kids seeking help for mental health problems are ages 10 and up.

Ahead of the new school year, AdventHealth is seeing an uptick in children and teens seeking help for anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm behavior.

Most of the kids seeking help for mental health problems are ages 10 and up.

Dr. Tina Gurnani, is a board-certified pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist at AdventHealth for Children.

Gurnani said the stress of a new school year can make some of these conditions worse, so it’s crucial to do a mental health check-in with your kid for at least five minutes a day. Start with something as easy as: tell me one good thing and one bad thing about your day today.

“So, you just want to make that part of the routine, but not force them to," said Gurnani. "They may have other people, community members, teachers, friends, pastors, someone else that they may feel comfortable sharing with.” 

Gurnani also recommends the following for good mental health hygiene: set a sleep routine, eat healthily, and get exercise.

“For some [families], I recommend even going ahead and going over to the school ahead of time, even just on the grounds from outside so that we can get used to making that trip there again every day," said Gurnani.

Irritability, changes in eating and sleeping, self-isolation, and complaints of headaches and stomachaches can be symptoms of poor mental health in kids.

Parents with concerns should contact their child’s pediatrician.

Nonprofit, Sound It Out, offers a free, online conversation starter park for families who want to talk about mental health.They also offer an emotions guide with resources dividedby the emotion your child is feeling.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, also has example conversations you can use.

If you or a loved one is experiencing feelings of hopelessness and apathy, or suicidal thoughts,call or text 988, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.The service is available in Spanish and English.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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